Thu | Sep 21, 2017

Trevor E.S. Smith | Are you enjoying or enduring your life?

Published:Sunday | May 7, 2017 | 5:00 AMTrevor E.S. Smith

How would you describe your life's journey? Has your life experience been joyful or mainly a feat of endurance?

This has implications for what your future holds.

Distinguish between joy and happiness.

Happiness can be seen as a temporary state - an event that is pleasing to you. Joy is an inner state of being at peace with yourself. Joy often includes happiness, but you can be joyful in unpleasant circumstances. Joy is a product of the mind, not of events.

That is why James, writing to early Christians who were subject to physical persecution, could say: "Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy."

We also read about Paul and Silas singing praises to God in prison. Your situation need not steal your joy!

The songwriter says: "God has not promised sun without rain, peace without sorrow, joy without pain."

So, back to the question: Are you enjoying or enduring your life?

Some of us are experiencing less joy, and endurance has the upper hand.

Here is my three-step formula for tipping the balance back in favour of joy.

 

STEP 1: SELF-ANALYSIS

 

Revisit how you see yourself.

Joy is incompatible with low self-esteem, constant conflict, frustration and bitterness.

How you talk to yourself (self-talk) influences the level of joy that you experience.

The less you love yourself and the worse you feel about life, the less joy you will experience. Conversely, the more comfortable you are with who you are and the more fulfilled you feel, the greater the prospects of experiencing joy.

Whether you experience joy starts with you and how you think about yourself.

Joy is not dependent on others and what happens outside of you. Joy is yours to grasp. You, too, can enjoy life, but it starts with coming to grips with yourself. It starts with understanding who you are and respecting yourself.

You can only experience joy when you learn to love yourself - blemishes, warts and all.

Tips for improving your self-confidence include:

a. Minding how you talk to yourself.

b. Not comparing yourself to others.

c. Coming to grips with your present situation.

d. Appreciating what your situation is and that change is possible.

 

STEP 2: ADJUST YOUR PROCESSING FILTERS

 

We tend to put events and developments into categories - positive, negative and neutral. Our outlook on life determines which category we use most frequently.

Yet, how we classify events has a major impact on our well-being.

Dr Julie Chen's How Negative Thoughts Affect Everything in Our Life speaks of the 'nocebo effect' - the concept that adverse health or clinical events can be produced or influenced by negative expectations. Dr Chen suggests with this concept that what occurs in our mind and perception may affect the ultimate outcome, and should also be taken into consideration for everyday life and interactions with other people.

The indication is that no matter what your past experience has been, dwelling on negatives is likely to produce more negative results. Your best bet is actually to have an open, yet optimistic, view of the future.

Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. I Thess 5:16-18

 

STEP 3: SHAPE THE FUTURE

 

- Tip the scale in favour of joy by taking action to influence the future. Decisions you make now impact the future. So, take responsibility for your actions and recognise your own role in determining future developments.

- Work to adjust your outlook by being more positive and taking supportive action.

- Look beyond this life.

- If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men (1 Cor 15:19).

- I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind (Ecc 1:14).

- Trevor E.S. Smith is a behaviour modification coach with the Success with People Academy, home of the revolutionary FinxS Platform from Extended DISC. Hire smart with FinxS behavioural assessments. Conduct employee satisfaction surveys, 360 performance evaluations and team reports using logistics-friendly technology. Email: info@swpacademy.com